Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More than many sparrows but less than this bronze

"Is there any organization in town that is more clueless about public relations than the Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese?" asked Bruce Murphy in last Tuesday's column, The Furor Over Weakland’s Bronze.
The criticism has been led by Peter Isely, the implacable director of the Midwest chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. You could argue that Isely always sees the negative about the archdiocese, but he is a smart, savvy strategist who seizes on any chance to dramatize the plight of those he represents against an archdiocese he portrays as uncaring. And time and again the actions of the archdiocese reinforce his arguments.
Consider Archbishop Listecki's use of the new talking point that objections to Archbishop Weakland are merely emotional. Or consider Cathedral rector Rev. Carl Last who said that if someone finds meanings in the Cathedral bronze other than what was originally intended, "it's his problem." Mr. Murphy continues,
I don’t know what the archdiocese could have done about the installation ceremony. Not allowing any role in the ceremony for a longtime Milwaukee archbishop like Weakland would seem a tough thing to do.
They're tough enough to tell people still angry or upset about Weakland's handling of the abuse cases to get over it, but not tough enough to tell Weakland he has to stay away for the good of our Archdiocese. Odd given that Weakland himself once apologized publicly for his "lack of courage".

Regarding the bronze pedestal plaque,
The smart thing would have been to immediately confess a goof and commission a new tribute – and with no particular haste.
Too close to the bait and switch strategy all too common in our Archdiocese. Why not instead acknowledge that subsequent events have added these connotations to the sculpture. Financing St. Peter's Basilica wasn't intended to be a factor in causing something like the Reformation. It turned out to be one, but we haven't torn it down. Both bronze and basilica serve as unintended symbols of hard lessons.
Why doesn’t the archdiocese get it?

The answer, I fear, is this: Officials are still far more concerned about the feelings of Weakland, his longtime lieutenant Bishop Richard J. Sklba, and other officials who got enmeshed in the clergy abuse scandal. That attitude, of course, is what led the church to protect abusive priests in the first place. And that attitude, if it is indeed still entrenched, will make it very difficult for the archdiocese to ever overcome this scandal.
Perhaps they think they've spent enough time on it, and it's time to move on. Like a shepherd whose schedule is more important than his sheep.

(via SNAP Network)

P.S. To the eye untrained in public relations, this is not the best context in which to find Bishop Sklba expressing concern over Where Have All the Poinsettias Gone?
I return to my question: what happens to all the poinsettias this time of the year? Does anyone at all care? I’ll ask the same question come Easter when the fragrant lilies of that season will be tossed out with equal disdain or disregard. Is there anything at all wrong with this picture?

P.P.S. Regarding the post title, it was not meant literally. As I have indicated elsewhere, I assume an aviary manager who handled abuse of many sparrows by subordinates as Archbishop Weakland did abuse of children would not be around to welcome any successors.

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